MOE 'studying ways to assess pupils'

Photo above: Ms Indranee (second from left) meeting participants from across Asia at the 48th International Seminar of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation Regional Language Centre on Monday.

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Education has been looking at different ways of assessing pupils that will not place too much stress on children or their parents.

Singapore is known for being exam-driven and in recent months, parents have singled out the Primary School Leaving Examination for being too high-stakes.

Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Education and Law, said on Monday that examinations and tests should give teachers a "proper sensing of ability without over-stressing the children". She said the Education Ministry is still reviewing what the best mode of assessment should be and that similar discussions are taking place in other countries.

Ms Indranee added: "We're quite clear about the outcome that we want. Our students must still have strong substantive knowledge of content... but that has to be wrapped around with all those things which are important for us as a society."

She was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation Regional Language Centre's International Seminar.

The three-day event, in its 48th year, will see more than 500 local and international educators discuss issues related to the assessment of language education and ways of testing students.

Talks include the usefulness of peer feedback forms, how to assess creative writing and how to measure vocabulary learning.

Dr Hannah Pillay, chairman of the seminar planning committee, said: "The criteria for assessing used to be a secret. The teacher was in possession of that criteria. Now the trend is to make students aware of what teachers are looking for so that they can use it to evaluate their own assignment."

She also noted that many schools here are already using information and communication technology to assess students.

One example of this takes place at Serangoon Secondary. To prepare students for the annual oral examinations, students are given scripts to act out and film with their peers.

Clips of these videos are uploaded online for teachers to assess and provide feedback. The data is also used to track a student's progress.

"For practice, this is more engaging for a student than just sitting in front of a teacher and reading text," said Madam Sarasvathy Rajah, an English teacher at the school. Madam Sarasvathy will be sharing her experience using this tool with other educators at a workshop today.

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